Michelin-starred chef and restaurant owner, Andrew Pern is a legend throughout Yorkshire and beyond. His four restaurants are renowned for their exceptional dining experience, with menus which feature the finest produce from Yorkshire’s pantry. We chat to Andrew about the recent reopening of the Star Inn the City after its devastating fire last year
Following the devastating news of the fire last November, we were so excited to see the The Star Inn the City restaurant reopen this month. How does it feel as a chef to get your kitchen back?
It’s fantastic for the team to get back in the kitchens. The chefs have been very patient, helping out at Mr P’s Curious Tavern, our other establishment in York, but have missed the hours and adrenalin that come with such a busy place as The Star Inn The City. Being a chef really is a way of life!
Has the restaurant changed very much in the renovation process?
Structurally, nothing has changed apart from a new kitchen roof and extraction system. But the kitchen has changed to better cater for our high numbers of diners, particularly in the height of summer. It now has a central island cooking suite, standalone fryer and large walk-in fridge/freezer, which we hope will make it an easier and nicer place to work.
What can we expect when we walk back through those doors this spring?
The Star Inn The City has had a lick of paint, new foliage to give a softer, greener effect to the place and more bits of memorabilia, which all help to cement our original ethos of bringing a taste of the countryside to the city.
Diners will be delighted to feast once again on the finest ingredients from God’s Own County, what have you got planned for the first menu back on the board?
The new menu has a similar feel, but just a bit more ‘grown-up’. We’re aiming at a better standard and a broader audience, so there’s something for everyone. Obviously, we’ve maintained the usual quality of North Sea fish and shellfish, Beverley-reared duck, Yorkshire lamb and the world famous Yorkshire rhubarb. We’re flying the white rose flag for the county right through to the end of the meal with Pontefract cakes and Wensleydale cheese on our puddings menu. We also have new ‘Pub Grub Classics’, which go back to our roots of an old English pub, from gammon and pineapple sausages with parsley mash, to Yorkshire reared Shorthorn beef made into deluxe burgers. Battered Whitby codling with chips and proper tartare sauce is a nod to our sister restaurant The Star Inn The Harbour, and we continue to offer the ever-popular steaks from the chargrill.
What is your top tip for cooks at home trying to save time in day-to-day cooking?
Firstly, buy the best ingredients you can afford, be it shin of beef or a piece of fresh fish, then prepare as much as possible beforehand and cook within your limits – there’s no need to be a three Michelin-starred chef, it’s better to be a star home cook. Don’t be afraid to season food and add little extras at the last minute, for instance a fresh grating of horseradish over beef or smoked fish dishes. Think of the dish as a whole too, and how you will get it all hot and out together on warm plates. It doesn’t have to be rocket science.
Yorkshire rhubarb is back on the grocer’s shelves, what can you pair with this fantastic ingredient to wow dinner party guests?
Yorkshire rhubarb is a favourite seasonal ingredient. We use it in various guises from rhubarb schnapps, to pickled with a chicken liver parfait. It regularly appears at this time of year on our Harome dessert menu – our Yorkshire rhubarb soufflé with Pontefract cake ice cream and ginger ale anglaise is absolute nectar and would grace any three Michelin-starred menu, let alone one star!
You have achieved so much in your career, did you always have big dreams?
I’ve never had any real plans in my life to be honest. Everything has just come along and fallen into place over the years, which is quite odd really. I was not too good at school, apart from rugby, but then cooking came along and we won one of the first Michelin stars ever awarded to a pub. I’d been inspired by the French and their concept of ‘terroir’, which made good sense to a farmer’s son. I’ve continued to promote all we have in God’s Own Pantry, letting the seasons write our menus. Each of our four restaurants has a different type of cooking and style, giving guests four different reasons to visit all four places. Saying that, I always like to come back to the kitchens in Harome, that’s where my home and heart are!
What advice would you give to young aspiring chefs who are looking to conquer the culinary world?
Any young chefs out there need to look at what they want from the industry. You have to learn how to eat well in order to be able to cook well and respect the ingredients. Normally, less is more, so if you’ve bought well, the food doesn’t need messing about with. Cook for the customers not yourself – you have to remember that the customers pay your wages after all! Whether you travel the world or stay local, it’s a fantastically enjoyable industry, but you must give your best at all times. Work hard, play hard… it’s all hospitality at the end of the day!
The Star Inn the City, Lendal Engine House, Museum Street,
York YO1 7DR
01904 619208 www.starinnthecity.co.uk